Threats and escape–Kirk Hiatt at EXIT

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Kirk Hiatt, It Acts Like a Weed, marker on paper
Kirk Hiatt, It Acts Like a Weed, marker on paper

There’s science fiction, with the stress on fiction, and then there’s science fiction with the stress on imminent fact. The future is all too near and all too scary in Kirk Hiatt’s one-man show at EXIT Philadelphia, a skateboard shop in Fishtown.

Kirk Hiatt
Kirk Hiatt, We Dine, Bic pen on paper

This is work with a sidewinder punch that lingers after the fact. I know there are lots of young artists worrying about what’s happening to our planet and creating art work about it. But what Hiatt does is push the issue into a what’s-next scenario, and it isn’t a comfortable place to be. He also works in a metaphorical zone, where the horrific changes in life as we know it are not necessarily literal physical changes.

Kirk Hiatt
We’ll Escape to the Country, graphite, marker and witeout on paper; the keystone shape is Kirk’s paper, not my camera angle.

Even though some of the drawings have a modest and tentative quality, I couldn’t help but think that this artist is on his way somewhere past that, signaled by the emotional gravitas in the work. The work also includes surprises like the trapezoidal shapes–not the traditional rectangles of paper that we use for art–that refer to sci-fi space and perspective along with references to the Star Wars introduction. Hiatt places conventional car-detailing flames in new contexts where they become a sort of pixillated falling apart of reality as we know it, an entry into some unnatural dimension. Accomplished drawing paired with these other quirks lends the work some of its weight.

Kirk Hiatt
Hiatt, Their Bodies Were no Longer Their Own #4, graphite and marker on duralar

I’m still a little shaken by Hiatt’s vision for the future, with bodies taken over by alien materials and buildings overrun by relentless alien kudzu. The seriousness here is far from the sci-fi camp that overpowers The Blob and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Kirk Hiatt
Let’s Roll/a.k.a. the Mothership; again, the keystone shape is Kirk’s and not a product of my miserable camera work.

There’s a desire to escape in this art. I noticed on Hiatt’s resume that he got here from Minneapolis. With the events of this past week, I’d say he escaped there just in time. And now he’s in a gallery named EXIT. Pretty funny coincidences.

EXIT Philadelphia, which moved to East Girard Avenue this year, has had several under-the-radar art shows in the back room. It seems to be part of the art world infill between The Ice Box and Tower Gallery, not so far from Bambi!

Tags

exit philadelphia, kirk hiatt, philadelphia art

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